Sorry about light blogging lately, I've been dealing with family illness issues. Hopefully things are getting better and next week I can expound on H1N1 vaccine deniers, the Mpls Mayoral race, and crappy gophers football and hockey teams! Don't worry I wouldn't miss a Friday random top 10:
1. Don't Be Cruel - Jerry Lee Lewis
2. Chinese Lorraine - Jack Logan
3. To Sir With Love - Lulu
4. Wear My Ring Around Your Finger - Elvis Presley
5. Baby I Love You - Aretha Franklin
6. I Ain't Ever Giving In - Fred Eaglesmith
7. He's A Good Dog - Fred Eaglesmith
8. Blue Sky Mining - Midnight Oil
9. Floaty - Foo Fighters
10. Jesus Built My Hotrod - Ministry
Bonus - Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus) - Drive By Truckers
A little different list today. Double shot of Fred Eaglesmith and a double shot of Jesus! Big Mak, how many Jesus songs do you have?
By Freealonzo on October 23, 2009 7:53 AM
Another gloomy, rainy, wet and cold October. Maybe a Random Top 10 will brighten things up.
1. The Rest of the World -- The Waco Brothers
2. Mayfly -- Belle & Sebastian
3. When the Whip Comes Down -- The Rolling Stones
4. Darby Hall -- The dB's
5. Stacy's Mom -- Fountains of Wayne
6. Black -- Pearl Jam
7. Window of My World -- Guided By Voices
8. New Amsterdam -- Elvis Costello
9. Son of a Gun -- Nirvana
10. Nightshift -- The Names
Bonus: 3-Legged Dog -- The Handsome Family
How did Stacy's Mom get in there? What's your top 10?
By Freealonzo on October 20, 2009 12:54 PM
I guess there is a reason they call him A-Rod! Also Robins Cano's facial expression is classic. Like he always suspected but seeing the evidence right in front of him was too much too take. Matsui's just playin' it cool.
By Freealonzo on October 19, 2009 10:43 AM
The Dakota Trail near Spring Park
Today I rode my bike to work and given the 5 day weather forecast and late date, it is probably the last time I ride my bike to work or anywhere for that matter so let's look back at 6 months of bike riding.....
First I will have over 1100 miles on my bike from mid-April (plus 50 miles on a tandem) which is about 200 miles a month. While a big increase from years past, there is room for improvement. One thing I want to do next year is to have more later evening rides, even short 10-15 mile rides, during the week. I have purchased a light in anticipation of later rides. If October hadn't been so crappy I probably could have broken the 1200 mile mark but I still refuse to ride in the cold and rain and don't have anything to cover my legs. (I do however have a biking jacket, a long sleeve shirt, and ear warmers).
As documented in this blog, I really increased my longer rides. Prior to this year, the furthest I ever rode was probably about 40 miles. Beside my 97 mile trip to Siren Wisconsin, I had a ride of 71 miles, a couple of about 60 miles, and a 50 mile ride in addition to the numerous 35-45 mile rides that I have done in the past. I definitely increased my routes and went out to Lake Minnetonka a couple of times and out to Stillwater. Next year I will have to go south more often.
I try to set a goal for myself each biking season with last year making it up the hill at Fort Snelling and this year the ride out to Siren. Next year I want to ride the Willard Munger Trail from Hinkley to Duluth with an overnight stay at Jay Cooke State Park and then onward to Two Harbors. Mileage may be similar to Siren but the camping will add a complication. I also hope to have more rides in the 70-80 mile range. It would be nice if I could approach 1500 miles but that may be tough as I have lots of other things going on and an old house to take care of. I had fun at the Urban Assault Ride and definitely plan to do that next year as well. I think I may check out other bike races as well. It might be kind of fun to see where I stack up.
Finally my bike. I ride a Marin hybrid which is good for the bike trails around the metro area. It's 5 years old now but is still holding up. While not a touring bike, it serves me quite well. Unfortunately I don't have the coin to buy a new $1000 or more bike so I'm going to stick with the bike I have for a while. I do think I am going to invest in new wheels however. I have had trouble with broken spokes which I think speaks to a general cheapness of the existing wheels. Also hopefully with new, higher quality wheels I will be able to add a mile or two per hour to my average speed. Even that slight improvement would be a big help. Also a tandem may be in our future so more bike rides with the wife may be a bigger part of the summer.
Finally besides the health benefits, the main reason I ride is because it is a blast chugging along at around 20 miles per hour under your own power, music screaming in your ears. Sure the scenery is sometimes gorgeous and there is nothing like riding by or over snarled car traffic but the thrill of going fast is what keeps me motivated to keep going. This year was a success, hopefully next year will be even better.
By Freealonzo on October 16, 2009 7:03 AM
As you are reading this I should be hiking in the cold and rain through Jay Cooke State Park. Hopefully pictures next week. Don't worry still have a random top 10, although cross posting will come later in day.
1. Dying -- XTC
2. M.O.R. -- Blur
3. Wake Me Up When September Ends -- Green Day
4. Dr. Wu -- The Minutemen
5. The Infanta -- The Decemberists
6. (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea -- Elvis Costello
7. Red Light Indicates Doors are Secured -- Arctic Monkeys
8. See No Evil -- Television
9. Vicar in a Tutu -- The Smiths
10. Shake -- Hypstrz
Bonus: Pink Triangle -- Weezer
Must be punk and alternative music day today at LFAD. The Minutemen's version of Dr. Wu has to be one of the greatest covers of all time. What's your top 10?
As someone who has spent some time in the EastandWest Village and Washington Square Park, it's hard to believe that at one time New York City officials wanted to run an elevated highway right through those neighborhoods and separately turn Washington Square into basically embankments to a 4-lane, enhanced 5th Avenue. Currently those neighborhoods are quaint, highly functional urban areas that cater to a diverse (although increasingly wealthy) population. Ruining them with superinfrastructure would seem crazy now and in the 1950's and 60's that seemed crazy to one woman: Jane Jacobs.
Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City by Anthony Flint is a slim book chronicling the efforts of New York's Master Builder Robert Moses to bring highways, urban renewal, and superblock housing to the Greenwich Village area of New York and how Jane Jacobs was not only able to stop those efforts in their tracks but to change the way that people in general, and urban planners specifically, thought about how urban areas worked.
The Flint book is a fascinating retelling of Robert Moses' plans for the Greenwich Village area and how Jane Jacobs was able to use the public planning process, the press, and neighborhood activism to stop those plans. Although today we hear all the time about how neighborhood groups organize to stop some sort of huge public works project or highway project, in the 1950's this was unheard of. Any group that stops a highway from going through their neighborhood should give a tip of the hat to Jane Jacobs.
Having said that, however, Jacobs lasting legacy will be her book The Death and Life of the Great American Cities. Although it espouses concepts we take for granted today -- good urban development needs eyes on the street, a diversity of uses, places for kids to play, places to walk, work, and shop -- in the early 1960's this was a radical concept and flew in the face of the massive "urban renewal" effort that was going on throughout the country. While neighborhood groups eagerly embraced her concepts, city officials, developers, and yes urban planners, treated the book with scorn.
Although the Flint book champion's Jacobs' efforts and recognizes their impact on the urban form some 50 years later, it's not afraid to point out the negative fallout and their lasting impacts. NIMBYism is a direct descendant of what Jacobs wrought and many neighborhoods have used her writings and concepts to oppose any and all development, regardless of merit. Furthermore, although Jacobs also spoke out against gentrification, it is clear that by preserving the quaint urban elements of the West Village and SOHO, those neighborhoods have become a magnet for wealthy professionals and national chain stores, while the dock workers, shop owners, and elderly Jacobs celebrated in her book have long moved away.
One side note, In Robert Caro's book The Power Broker, which is a 1200-page magnum opus on the life and times of Robert Moses, there is nary a word on Jane Jacobs. Apparently Caro turned in a 1500 page manuscript and the editor made Caro trim it. A whole chapter on Jacobs was eliminated, as was a chapter on the Brooklyn Dodgers leaving for Los Angeles and the inner workings of the New York City Planning Commission. Oh to read those chapters! Come on Vintage, reprint The Power Broker in two volumes with the cut chapters intact.
You may not want to tackle 1200 plus pages about Robert Moses, but if you are at all interested in urban planning and the effort to transform/preserver lower Manhattan, the 200 page Wrestling Moses is highly recommended.
October 2nd passed with hardly an acknowledgment of the 25 year anniversary of the Replacements ground breaking album Let It Be. About 2-1/2 years ago I reviewed Let It Be as part of my 30 Favorite Albums feature. Since I don't have a whole lot to add to that review below is what I wrote:
Going to the University of Minnesota in the early- to mid-1980's meant that I had a front row seat to the "Golden Age" of the local music scene. Any day of the week you could easily see the Suburbs, Soul Asylum, Husker Du, The Phones, Prince, The Wallets, and a host of other great bands that have slipped into the mists of time. However my personal favorite was by far The Replacements, a band that I easily saw more than 50 times. And so it goes without saying that Let It Be would be on my list of 30 best loved albums.
From the iconoclastic Beatles-esque title, to the cover of Paul, Bob, Tommy, and Chris sitting on the roof of a porch of a typical SW Minneapolis home, to the snarky song about MTV, the album perfectly captures the feel and sense of 1984. What is great about this album, however, is its timelessness. Even though I couldn't imagine this album being recorded at any time other than 1984, the album doesn't feel dated some 20 5 years later.
The album kicks off with I Will Dare which was easily the Replacements biggest hit and most accessible song. Through this song, a lot more people were brought into the Replacement's fold and, like the Pretenders Stop Your Sobbing, helped with the ladies as you could play this Replacements song and not clear the dance floor (important when you are in college!).
The following three songs, Favorite Thing, We're Coming Out, and Tommy Got His Tonsils Out were classic Replacements rockers full of Bob's furious guitar work and Paul's smart assy lyrics. Androgynous is a switch as a piano-led, slower tempo song. It was right before Let It Be came out that Paul was hanging out with Peter Buck of REM (That's Buck's mandolin (but not his playing) on I Will Dare) and we saw them once hanging out at First Avenue with eye liner. Needless to say that my friend Pete and I used eyeliner a lot that summer when we went out.
Black Diamond was the first cover recorded by the Replacements and it was perfect as they played the song straight but in an "ironic" way so that anyone in the know would get the joke. Seen Your Video, with it's three lines (Seen your video/it's only rock and roll/we don't want to know) also was spot-on as by this time MTV had been taken over by slick, expensively-produced videos usually from fey English bands that didn't have room for guitars. Finally I think Gary's Got a Boner would be considered a classic rock and roll song if it wasn't for it's goofy subject matter.
The songs Unsatisfied and 16 Blue were probably the most lauded songs and really shone a spotlight on Paul's song writing skills. Even though I was 21 at the time, I wasn't that too far removed from 16 and understood 16 Blue's significance completely. The Replacements were playing these songs live for a few months prior to the release of the album and at that time we knew that their next album was going to be something special.
Let It Be really demonstrated what the Replacements were and could be. It was an exciting time as it appeared that they were on their way to superstardom. Unfortunately they were about 10 years too early. If this album had been released in 1994, they would have been bigger than Nirvana. This album some kicked off what some consider the Holy Trinity of Replacements' albums: Let It Be, Tim, and Pleased to Meet Me. Many consider Tim the definitive album, and I respect that opinion but for meaning and musical enjoyment, Let It Be will always be one of my fave' things.
After 25 years I think Let It Be still stands tall among rock albums. It really broke the door wide open between "indy music" and "mainstream music" paving the way for the Nirvana's, Pearl Jams, and all that came after. It was fun to be there when it first hit and it's fun to go back and listen to it some 25 years later. I have a feeling I will still be listening to in 25 years from now.
By Freealonzo on October 9, 2009 7:58 AM
I was very close to riding my bike to work this morning but 34 degrees was telling me that was not a good idea. I would like to get a least a couple more rides in but I don't think it's going to happen this weekend. How about a Random Top 10 instead:
1. Pleasant Valley Sunday - The Wedding Present
2. Sentimental Heart - She & Him
3. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront (live) - Guided By Voices
4. Freak Scene - Dinosaur Jr.
5. Silver Naked Ladies - Paul Westerberg
6. Southern Girls (live) - Cheap Trick
7. Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez
8. Spirit Road - Neil Young
9. 1,000,000 - R.E.M.
10. Cold Gin (live) - KISS
Bonus: The Tourist - Radiohead
Nice little mix of live tracks, lo-fi, metal, and rock. What's on your list?
By Freealonzo on October 7, 2009 8:50 AM
They Just Don't Quit. It's been said so much about plucky, playing-over-their-heads sports teams for so long that it ranks among such classic sports clichés as "giving 110 percent" and "one day at a time." But clichés exist for a reason and if "They Just Don't Quit" ever applied to a team, it applied to the 2009 Minnesota Twins, especially over the last month of the season.
We all know the stats intimately by now: Seven games out on September 7th. Three games out with 4 to play. Last Wednesday it looked like the season was over, now, the following Wednesday, we're all hung over. Last night the Twins down early 3-0, they come back, They're down 5-4 in the 10th, they come back. Their worst pitcher has to pitch the 11th and 12th innings and he miraculously allows no runs. Two players picking splinters out of their backsides from riding the bench so much come up huge in the 12th and the Twins win. They just don't quit.
Some will say that is why Baseball is the greatest sport, with its long 162 game season and no clock, you can't quit. You can't just "run out the clock." Life is like that too. There is no clock -- it's not a race, it's a journey. Just think if we applied the mantra "they just don't quit" to our entire lives? Just think what we would accomplish. Who knows maybe even a trip to New York City.
By Freealonzo on October 5, 2009 8:56 AM
Are times getting tough,
Are the roads you travel rough,
Have you had enough of the old,
Tired of being exposed to the cold,
The stare of your stereo,
Put on your headphones,
Before you're exposed,
Oh, oh, oh oh, Wilco, Wilco,
Wilco will love you baby
Wilco brought their traveling fun show to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Friday with the expressed intent of letting the 4,500 people in attendance know that although times are tough, winter's coming to the northland, politicians/parents/spouses/bosses don't listen to you - or whatever your beef -- it doesn't matter because Wilco loves you and for 2-1/2 hours what else do you need?
I saw Wilco a couple of years ago and described it is almost a perfect concert, transcendent even. While the Friday show didn't reach those emotional heights, as a pure fun rock and roll, it would be hard to top Friday's show. The show started a little slow, even with the obvious opening of Wilco (the song). Bull Black Nova was great and a nice showcase for Nels Cline's jazzy fret work. However it wasn't until about the eighth song, Handshake Drugs, where Wilco really hit its stride and then really never let go.
The band was extremely loose and Jeff Tweedy was in fine form, they were definitely having a blast onstage and Wilco's enthusiasm for the songs soon washed over the audience. By the end the crowd was swept up into the moment, not wanting to let go. Nels Cline was amazing once again (see video above) and I think his guitar playing is starting to rub off on Jeff Tweedy who showed some serious licks himself. Spiders (Kidsmoke) was particularly intense and made me think that for a song that is pretty avant-garde, it is highly accessible and a blast in concert.
Wilco went through their entire catalog with most of the songs from Wilco (the Album), Sky Blue Sky, and A Ghost is Born. However they ended their 2nd encore and the show with Woody Guthrie penned Hoody Voodoo off of Mermaid Avenue II. There was an extended guitar-off between Nels Cline and Pat Sansone that was quite muscular, with each trying to top the other. With that the show ended and Wilco had shown us they indeed did love us. In fact the crowd was so spent, they hardly put up a fuss when the lights came on. A satisfying night of rock and roll that thrilled young and old alike.
One negative note on Roy Wilkins. While a decent place to see a show, it is a lousy place to hear a show. The acoustics are lousy and depending where you sit, you literally can't hear some of what is being played on stage. Also for a song like California Stars, where the vocals are 90 percent of the song, it would be nice to have a mix where the vocals are crystal clear. But hey no worries, Wilco loves you (baby).
1. Wilco (The Song)
2. A Shot In The Arm
3. Bull Black Nova
4. You Are My Face
5. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
6. One Wing
7. At Least That's What You Said
8. Handshake Drugs
9. Deeper Down
10. Impossible Germany
11. It's Just That Simple
12. Sonny Feeling
13. Can't Stand It
14. Jesus, Etc.
15. Via Chicago
16. Spiders (Kidsmoke)
18. The Late Greats
19. You Never Know (w/ Liam Finn)
20. California Stars (w/ with Liam Finn and Gary Louris)
21. Heavy Metal Drummer
23. Hate It Here
25. I'm The Man Who Loves You
27. Hoodoo Voodoo
By Freealonzo on October 2, 2009 9:30 AM
There will be eight 16 and 17 year old girls in my house tonight. I think Charlie and I will try to go the Wilco concert (even though we don't have tix) to get away. How about a Random Top Ten:
1. Life From a Window -- The Jam
2. Cry, Cry, Cry -- Johnny Cash
3. Minneapolis -- Lucinda Williams
4. All You Fascists -- Billy Bragg and Wilco
5. Pieces of Truth -- Foxboro Hot Tubs
6. Away with Murder -- Camera Obscura
7. Friday I'm in Love -- The Cure
8. The Static Age -- Green Day
9. Another Life -- Jack Logan
10. Copperhead Road -- Steve Earle
Bonus: Ruby Tuesday -- The Rolling Stones
A little variety there. That Camera Obscura album is awesome. What's your top 10?
By Freealonzo on October 1, 2009 3:14 PM
With the Twins winning today it looks like there may be at least 1 or 2, possibly 3 more meaningful baseball games at the HHH Metrodome this weekend. Chances are slim I know, but there is a chance. I will definitely be paying attention and hoping against hope for a Twins sweep of the Royals.
A few people have asked me if I am going to one of the last games at the dome this weekend and I enthusiastically tell them no. I've have hated inside baseball since 1982 and I am ecstatic that the Twins will be playing outside next year. I will take a few days of cold, wet, blustery games over a whole summer of inside baseball. I have never wavered over my hatred of the Dome and my wanting a new Twins ballpark was all about wanting to see baseball outside, not some fear that the Twins would move without a new ballpark.
Sure there have been great memories at the dome. I was at all four games of the 1991 World Series. But I tie those great memories to the Twins, not the Dome. The Dome was antiseptic, it was bland, it was plastic. It wasn't built for baseball and was cursed with horrible sightlines. In Minnesota we have such few months of actual nice weather it was a crying shame that one had to go inside to watch baseball.
So good riddance HHH Metrodome. I won't miss you. I won't shed a tear over you. And I'll mark your passing with a sigh of relief that we finally saw the (sun) light and built a beautiful new outdoor ballpark.